Throughout the ages, scientists and spiritual adepts have sought to define Truth from seemingly opposite directions. The mystic’s experience of spiritual energy (such as Reiki) is quite real to the individuals involved, and yet that reality has not been measured or quantified by a mathematical equation or scientific theory. So, the question remains, what is real? Can the Reiki energy be explained? People sometimes ask, could Reiki energy be an illusion? Could benefits come from a placebo effect? What is the scientific basis for such an energy to exist? Is this Universal Life Force Energy a metaphysical construct, a symbol, a myth?
Our perception of the definition of Truth changes with enlightenment, education, and experience. Historically, that perception of truth battles against established mindsets before a new paradigm can break through. For example, when Galileo challenged the world view of a stationary flat earth (Ecclesiastes 1:4–5) and fixed stars, with the sun and moon revolving us (Psalms 104:5), in his 1610 manuscript, Sidereus Nuncius, the Holy Roman Church responded in an uproar. Galileo faced excommunication and damnation for heresy, and was brought before the Papal Inquisition to denounce his findings under threat of torture and probable death. His work was entered into the Papal Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Prohibited Books; in effect until the 1960s) and the persecution of the Holy Roman Church continued for most of his life.
In a few decades scientists went from a conviction that there is no such thing as an energy field around the human body to a certainty that such fields exist and are medically important.
Faraday’s Law of Induction is a basic law of electromagnetism. It states that when currents flow through conductors such as wire or living tissues, magnetic fields must be produced in the surrounding space. It is the basis for a modern science called magnetobiology, which explores the effects of magnetic fields on living systems.
Since living tissues are conductors of electricity, the well established laws of physics require that the currents set up by the heart and other muscles, and the brain and peripheral nerves, will produce fields in the space around the body. These are called biomagnetic fields. Biomagnetic measurements are a lot more informative about what is happening inside the body than are the bioelectric measurements.
This is an important point for therapists because a magnetic sense, if it exists, will provide much more information on what is going on within the body than will measurements of electrical fields from electrodes on the skin surface. And there is a good scientific basis for the existence of a magnetic sense in the human body.
The discovery that pulsing magnetic fields can stimulate repair of bone and other tissues led to a whole series of careful studies on how the methods work. As a result, we have a detailed understanding of how energy fields can jump start the healing process. What is important about all of this is that Reiki Practitioners can emit ELF signals from their hands.
Dr. John Zimmerman (1990) in the USA and Seto (1992) in Japan further investigated the large pulsating biomagnetic field that is emitted from the hands of energy practitioners whilst they work. They discovered that the pulses are in the same frequencies as brain waves, and sweep up and down from 0.3 – 30 Hz, focusing mostly in 7 – 8 Hz, alpha state. Independent medical research has shown that this range of frequencies will stimulate healing in the body, with specific frequencies being suitable for different tissues. For example, 2 Hz encourages nerve regeneration, 7Hz bone growth, 10Hz ligament mending, and 15 Hz capillary formation. Physiotherapy equipment based on these principles has been designed to aid soft tissue regeneration, and ultra sound technology is commonly used to clear clogged arteries and disintegrate kidney stones. Also, it has been known for many years that placing an electrical coil around a fracture that refuses to mend will stimulate bone growth and repair.
Becker explains that ‘brain waves’ are not confined to the brain but travel throughout the body via the perineural system, the sheaths of connective tissue surrounding all nerves. During treatment, these waves begin as relatively weak pulses in the thalamus of the practitioner’s brain, and gather cumulative strength as they flow to the peripheral nerves of the body including the hands. The same effect is mirrored in the person receiving treatment, and Becker suggests that it is this system more than any other, that regulates injury repair and system rebalance. This highlights one of the special features of Reiki (and similar therapies) – that both practitioner and client receive the benefits of a treatment, which makes it very efficient.
It is interesting to note that Dr. Robert Becker carried out his study on world-wide array of cross-cultural subjects, and no matter what their belief systems or customs, or how opposed to each other their customs were, all tested the same. Part of Reiki’s growing popularity is that it does not impose a set of beliefs, and can therefore be used by people of any background and faith, or none at all. This neutrality makes it particularly appropriate to a medical or prison setting.
Hence we have uncovered a major synergy between clinical biomedicine and complementary medicine. The basic physics of induction is important because it helps explain some of the effects of Reiki. In essence, the biomagnetic fields produced by a practitioner’s hands can induce current flows in the tissues and cells of individuals who are in close proximity.
Evidence that this actually can occur is nicely summarized in a fascinating paper entitled “The Electricity of Touch” and in a book entitled “Science of the Heart”
Following are findings of some research organizations on Reiki:
- Through one of its studies, University of Michigan Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center (CAMRC), found that Reiki can be effective for diabetics experiencing nerve problems, especially in the legs. Reiki was applied to relieve some of the pain and numbness experienced by the diabetic patients.
- Several studies were carried out using single blind study technique to determine efficacy of reiki treatment. In a study female nursing students were given either real reiki or “mimic reiki” (a placebo form). Tests conducted before and after failed to find any improvement (generally attributed to reiki treatment) in the group which received real reiki.
- Hartwell and Brewitt conducted a study on reiki in 1997 in which a group of chronically ill patients received eleven, weekly, one hour reiki treatment sessions. The patients were not given any other allopathic or complementary medicine or treatment during this period. Tests were conducted to find before/after differences in health. It was observed that all the patients experienced a reduction in pain and an increase in relaxation and mobility.
- Natural standard and Harvard Medical School released a paper on a study done by scientists on reiki and its effects.The studies were carried out on small samples and it was found that:
- Reiki works on the autonomic nervous system, effecting heart beat rate, blood pressure and/or breathing activity.
- Reiki can help reduce depression and stress.
- Reiki can help reduce pain.
- The scientists did point out though that all the trials were on a small scale and larger trials were needed before any conclusion could be drawn.